My marketing brain knows this promoted tweet from Fruit of the Loom is supposed to be festive and funny. But my civilian brain finds it baffling and a little icky.
I see unding as un-ding, as in “You can’t un-ding that damage to your car’s fender.” No? Well, maybe unding is a gerund, like understanding or undulating. (“Do you like unding?” “Sorry, I’ve never unded.”)
After about 30 seconds, I figured out the correct interpretation: It’s a blend of underwear and stocking.*
Thirty seconds is too long. And this is a bad portmanteau.
I’ve written about bad portmanteaus in the past: Flatizza, framily, Analtech, glotion. The gist: Some word pairs just aren’t suitable for blending. Underwear + stocking is one of those pairs. Understock? No. Underking? No. Stockinwear? No. Undocking? No.
It’s hopeless. And in German, it’s worse.
What happens when we see an unfamiliar word? We break it down into familiar components. In this case, we see the prefix un- and the familiar word ding. Looking at the picture doesn’t help much: Those clearly aren’t stockings, so what are they?
They’re … velveteen underpants. Near an open flame.
And now I can’t un-see an unding filled with a couple of tangerines. Or a really long candy cane. Or even – yes, I’m very, very naughty – lumps of coal.
* As for the #NeverUndingFireplace hashtag, I can’t help reading it as a parallel to #NeverTrump or #NeverHillary. I will, in fact, never hang an unding over my fireplace, or anywhere else.